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Trinity man dies weeks after being trapped for two days in his car

Justyn Ambrozia, the 90-year-old Trinity man who survived for two days in a car after breaking his hip and wrist, died Thursday due to complications from the trauma.

"His heart gave out," said his son, Justin. "They couldn't revive him."

On April 30, Ambrozia drove from his Pasco County home to a nearby Publix. He was walking around a corner in the store when he slipped and grabbed a shelf that gave way. The fall broke his wrist and hip.

Employees helped him up and took down his information, he told a reporter earlier this month. They loaded him into a wheelchair, he said, and took him to his car in the parking lot.

The shooting pain in his leg started when he was halfway home. By the time he pulled into his garage, his left wrist was swollen and so tender he couldn't pull the car's door handle. Ambrozia, who earned two Purple Hearts in World War II, also had a partly disabled right arm because he had been shot during combat in France.

He said his car battery died as soon as he got into the garage. He used his remote to lift and close the garage door in the hopes of flagging someone down. Nobody saw him.

After two days, a neighbor was walking by when he noticed a withered hand waving from the car. He walked up the driveway and heard a muffled voice: "I can't get out of my car. Can you help me?"

The neighbor called 911.

Justin Ambrozia said his father seemed to be improving. Just hours before his death, he and his son were discussing where he would receive rehabilitation before moving back into his home on Mitchell Ranch Road.

Ambrozia, who lived alone, was a retired medical assistant who worked for 30 years at a VA hospital in Pennsylvania. He was fiercely independent.

Justin Ambrozia said he is disappointed with how Publix appears to have handled his father's accident.

"They should have not even touched him," he said. "They had no first responders there at all."

He has hired an attorney and may take legal action.

"This is my father," he said. "I'm looking for answers."

Publix spokesman Brian West said an investigation into the incident is ongoing, though he declined to give specifics.

"We are deeply saddened by Mr. Ambrozia's passing," he said. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time."

Times staff writer Alex Orlando contributed to this report. John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com.

Trinity man dies weeks after being trapped for two days in his car 05/18/13 [Last modified: Saturday, May 18, 2013 10:13pm]
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